Baby Food: Nutrition and changing over to Solid foods.
The World Health Organisation recommends weaning from 6 months. However, new research suggests weaning between the ages of 4 to 6 months when babies are full term.
There are many conflicting opinions when it comes to baby nutrition and when to transition from breast milk to solid baby foods.
A big issue is a lack of strict laws for baby food companies with regards to labelling. Additionally, some studies have shown that introducing solid foods too early may be linked to eczema, malnutrition and obesity - with babies having to eat twice as much store-bought baby food to get the same amount of nutrients from home-made baby food. A downfall of weaning late can sometimes cause fussiness in little ones eating their food. Another is hand me down traditions and myths that have long been proven false but are still believed to be true by parents.
Allergies and food introduction
Experts in child nutrition now believe that 4 months is too early for most babies and some studies have shown a link between food allergies and moving to solid foods too early.
However some studies suggest it is beneficial to expose babies to proteins and allergy risk foods early on as there is a belief that it could protect against forming allergies later on.
Baby cereal – Is it best to start with this?
Most baby cereal and processed baby food companies claim on their packaging that their products are suitable for babies aged 4 months and older. For years, cereals have been recommended when introducing solids or as a baby’s first food. However, this is outdated information and new findings have shown that vegetables and meats are far more nutritious than cereals.
Today, it is preferable to start weaning with vegetables, fruit and then cereals.
Breastmilk and Formula – When to do the switch over to solid food
Breastmilk or formula should be your child’s only source of nutrition for the first 6 months. Breastmilk is extremely beneficial and allows for a valuable source of vitamins and minerals as well as boosting the baby’s immune system. This is an important way in keeping baby healthy. Formula is balanced and allows for the nutritional needs to be met. This is a sound choice if breastfeeding is not an option.
During the first year, milk or a milk substitute should be the primary source of all nutrition. However, between 6 months and a year, the ratio of solid food to milk should increase, until, at the age of one year, baby is mostly consuming solids. Parents need to work hand in hand with a paediatrician or clinic sister who is in a position to advise about whether the baby is receiving the correct nutrients.
The Switch Over - Introducing the RIGHT solid foods
After 6 months babies can then be introduced to soft foods that are ready to eat without chewing.
In the early stages, foods can be diluted with breastmilk, formula or water to make them easier to eat. It is best to offer healthy, unprocessed foods. Focus on vegetables, proteins and fruits.
The ability to eat solid foods is not something that will happen all at once. Rather than a landmark event, you can think about this transition as a slow process.
Babies must first lose their tongue thrust reflex which stops them from gagging. When this begins to happen, your baby will begin to eat by sucking and licking food and will eventually move on to swallowing little pieces of food.
Checklist to see if your child is ready to eat solid foods:
- Your baby should be able to sit in a chair and should be able to control his or her head.
- If your baby watches you eating, reaches for your food, seems eager to be fed and opens his or her mouth when you offer food on a spoon, they may be ready to start the transition to solid foods.
- Milk feeds no longer seem to satisfy their appetites.
- Is he big enough? Generally, when infants double their birth weight typically at about 6 months of age and weigh about 6 kg or more, they may be ready for solid foods.
Sugar & Spice Nanny Training Cape Town – Child and Baby Nutrition
Nutrition is such an important factor when it comes to your baby’s development.
Therefore, we have included an entire section in our nanny training course dedicated to baby nutrition and hygiene.
The aim of this section is to help your nanny understand what a healthy diet is made up of and what children and babies need to eat to be healthy. We include healthy meals to prepare, nutritional baby food recipes and menu planning.
Additionally, we include training on how to wean and introduce solid food into your baby’s diet.
Furthermore, our course includes a section on food allergies and knowing which allergenic foods to be wary of – a very important section!
For more information or to book a place in our nanny course, please contact us.